6 ways to savor the tail-end of summer

Our current to-do list is a mile long—we’ve been in our house just at two weeks, and there are still boxes everywhere. Our boys’ bathroom counter needs installing, the half bath downstairs still holds its old, outdated sink, and don’t get me started about the yard. It’s downright frightening.

But in the midst of hanging shelves and unpacking dishes, this weekend we ditched the bubble wrap for flip flops and sunscreen, and moseyed our way to the lake. Summer’s just a few weeks longer here, and school is starting soon. This weekend, the to-do list was put on the back burner, only for a bit.

Summer is still going strong in most spots of North America, but I’m already seeing Facebook status updates from people who are longing for fall. Football, changing leaves, pumpkin spice lattes… all dream-worthy stuff.

But there’s still fun to be had—winters are long up here in the Pacific Northwest, so I’m not wishing away the shorts just yet. And I know many places have had a brutally hot summer in most necks of the wood, so I don’t doubt for a bit that you’re dying for a dip in temperature.

Whether or not your kids have already started school, let’s savor the summer for a few more weeks.

1. Go for a drive to a nearby town.

Crank up the A/C and enjoy a leisurely scenic drive. Make a scavenger hunt list or some bingo cards so that the kids stare outside the window instead of your phone screen. Head to some outskirt town you haven’t been to in awhile, and make an afternoon out of wandering its streets and trying a new restaurant.

In Austin, we’d love going to Gruene (The Gristmill!) or Fredericksburg (German food!). Here in Bend, we love Sisters or Sunriver.

2. Swim.

I know this one is stating the obvious. But outdoor swimming isn’t a year-round sport for most places, so take advantage of it, even in triple-digit temps.

I love an Aussie expression for staying sane in the sun—sip, slap, slop. Sip tons of water, slap on a hat, slop on the sunscreen.

3. Stay up later…

If your kids are still out of school, let them stay up late for a wee bit longer. Enjoy a few more family movie nights, or go for a longer-than-normal post-dinner walk. These long-lit nights won’t last forever, and school night bedtimes will call the shots before you know it.

4. …But start heading to bed earlier.

I find it helpful to start gradually getting the kids in bed earlier a few weeks before school starts. This softens the rude awakening come the first day of school, and it keeps the parents sane.

Our kids tend to stay up an hour later in the summer, so I figured if we aim for ten minutes earlier every couple of days for a few weeks, we’ll be back to our school year routine rather painlessly.

5. Backyard camping.

It might be a stretch to make a final camping trip out of town, so make the most of your camping supplies still within reach.

Eat dinner outside, and if you have a backyard fire pit, make s’mores for dessert. Stay up late watching the stars, and then do your best not to sneak back up to your bed in the middle of the night.

(I may or may not have been tempted to do that this summer.)

6. Make t-shirts for the school year.

Spend an afternoon making your own t-shirts—maybe choose one to wear the first day of school. A few of my favorite ideas:

This is our to-do list for the next month—that, and turn a house into a livable home. In a month, I’ll be ready for those pumpkin spice lattes.

Is it still summer where you are? When does school start for kids in your neck of the woods?

This post is sponsored by Dreyer’s/Edy’s® Slow Churned Light Ice Cream: all the taste of regular ice cream, but with half the fat and 1/3 fewer calories. Now that’s a reason to smile. Give a smile here.

Tsh Oxenreider

Tsh is the founder of this blog and just finished traveling around the world with her husband and 3 kids. Her latest book is Notes From a Blue Bike, and believes a passport is one of the world's greatest textbooks.

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  1. My kid isn’t school age yet – but the kids here went back 4 weeks ago. Early, but makes sense to me, because it was 110 here today, and it’s supposed to be 108 tomorrow. But they get 3 weeks off in October, when the weather will be high 80s and much more enjoyable!

    I’m actually starting to feel “swum-out” because we’ve been swimming so much this summer, since it’s basically the only way to survive the outdoors in the daytime. And I CAN’T WAIT for scarf season. Too bad I’ve probably got another 3 months… I’ll be jealously following your Instagram updates all fall I’m sure! 🙂

    • Where are you, Jessica? Just curious.

      I do love that idea of starting early to get more time off throughout the year. Smart.

      • Lauren Nicole says:

        I’m in Indiana and my daughter’s preschool started July 31. A wee bit too early for me, but other parents have told me I will enjoy the two-week breaks in October and March.

      • SE Tucson/ Vail Arizona.
        And there’s supposed to be a cold front this weekend — highs of only 88! I’m so excited! (And I feel a little bad for that semi-whiny comment above) 🙂

  2. Hi Tish, I’m in Australia and where we are it has been a very cold winter so we are looking forward to warmer weather and doing some of the things you have suggested. The Aussie expression I’m aware of is ‘slip, slop, slap’. There used to be a series of ads (maybe from the anti-cancer council) encouraging people to slip on a shirt, slop on sunscreen and slap on a hat. I do like the idea of sipping too though!

    • I’m in Australia too and now I can’t get the ‘slip, slop, slap’ song out of my head! Really looking forward to summer here!

  3. Agh! We still haven’t floated the river this summer, and I am going to be sad if we don’t! The chilly mornings are making me feel all schoolish and autumnal, but I know what a foolish endeavor it is to wish away our current 90 degree temps. They’ll be gone soon enough!

    Are the mosquitoes still out at the Cascade Lakes?

    • Hardly any mosquitos this past weekend! It was really nice, even though the water was freezing.

      And we still haven’t floated the river either… On our list!

  4. Chantelle says:

    Haha actually it’s ‘slip, slop,slap’ it was the slogan for a skin cancer awareness campaign. If I remember the jingle.correctly the ‘slip’ stood for ‘slip on a shirt’ – meaning cover up in the sun. Though the water idea sounds highly valuable for staying sane. Obviously here in Queensland it’s still winter but the advice to enjoy the current season is still great , soon enough it will change!

    • Ha! Funny. I’m just going on what someone told me when I was in Queensland. I think the original is better. 🙂

  5. Kids start back this week. Just yesterday, I said “we’re going to run out of chances to go to the pool. It’s now or never!”

    I long for football and hot chocolate, but I am not ready for school zones and heavy coats.

  6. My husband is actually the one in school, right now! He starts today actually. With temps in the 100s, I am definitely ready for some cooler weather. And since we have littles (4,2,1), we don’t stay up late. Routine is our sanity saver–even in the summer!

    We will, though, try to hit up the splash park a few more times!

  7. Our daughter is still too young for school. But this is our first full summer in the Deep South from a northern state so needless to say, I’m ready for cooler weather!

  8. We start school today but I can guarantee that we will be savoring the tail end of summer in the afternoons and on the weekend. We still have a camping trip planed and an evening trip to a water slide park that opens just evenings once school is back. I will squeeze in a few more warm 5K’s with my son before the cooler longer races of fall return.

  9. My daughter is going to high school and son to middle school and would rather die than be caught dead in a shirt that we made!! But I still have some little ones that I could try this with. We are looking at our list of stuff we didn’t do yet this summer and are weeding out the impossible. Going to be a busy next few weeks trying to cram it all in. Thanks for the ideas!

  10. Back to homeschooling this year and I’m actually very excited! I missed my big kids last year as they went to public school in our new town. The education was so lacking and the schedule horrible, so back to the ‘school of mom’ in a week or so. Still preparing and organizing. Our temps have surprisingly taken a dip and it’s so nice! We were hoping August might turn cool since the initial summer months were more like August weather. Still, summer always goes by too quickly.

  11. Wonderful ideas for the end of the summer along with keeping in mind the ideas from my post about dehydration. Enjoy the end of the summer with fun times.

  12. Tsh, your post hit home since I was just feeling that sadness that my kids would be heading off to school within weeks. We’ve waffled over the years about the homeschooling option and ended up deciding to go with school since we have some great ones. For that reason, I savor the concentrated family time in the summer. For my daughter, however, I’m very cognizant of the toll being inundated with social stuff at school hits hard. So these last few days are a combination of giving her her last tastes of alone time and broaching some topics of dealing with the tough challenges of peer pressure.
    Finally, it’s a lot easier to get family activities in in the summer. I encourage all your readers to make a point to plan in family fitness into your fall plans. It doesn’t take much – but just do something together most days out of the week. A great way to extend the family bonding that comes with activities you do during the summer.

  13. Yes. We are trying different popsicle recipes. Nothing says summer like a pop from the freezer!

  14. My summer is ending a little differently. I go back to work next week after a nice long maternity leave. We are going to Galveston later this week for a quick beach getaway before we get back to the grind. It’s funny how my procrastinating patterns haven’t changed since college. I’m approaching the deadline and have to cram everything in last minute 😉

  15. Just popping over to visit some of the allume speakers, since I just found out that I’ll be blessed to attend (Lord willing), and had to comment, because my family moved 2 weeks ago as well 🙂 Great ideas for a bit of fun.

  16. We just got home from a week long camping trip to Northern MN…it was cool at night and felt like fall. We were SO thankful for hot showers and a comfy bed last night! We have had a great summer but are starting to wind down a bit. I feel ready for the routine of the school year again, but not quite yet….there is still fun to be had here. It gets cold here too and winters are long so I’ll savor coffee on the deck in the morning, long walks and fresh garden tomatoes. The kids don’t start school until after Labor Day(a MN law I think) so it’s nice to know we have Labor Day weekend for our last camping shindig.

  17. Hi! Great read for all us moms. Thanks for linking to my No Dye Tie Dye post.
    Rikka J.
    Ricochet and Away!

  18. This was a timely post. I’ll be homeschooling my daughter and I made my schedule for it yesterday and got all excited about starting. But I’m making myself wait until September first to do it. It’s good to have another post to get me re-inspired to enjoy the summer that’s left because the school year is plenty long enough already and doesn’t need a jump-start. I’m still excited though. But I need to do my clothes shopping and school supply shopping still so there’s something to keep me busy until the time comes.

  19. it was 115 here today – we swam, we had smoothies for dinner, and watched a movie.

    then when the kids were in bed my husband and i packed for our little trip up to the oregon coast where the high of the week will be 64… 64!

    it felt odd packing sweaters while cranking the a/c in this heat! haha! it will be a great pre-start of school get away for sure!

  20. Tsh, I love this post! Practical and Poetic… I’m in Turkey, and summer’s going strong for at least another 5 weeks. I’m trying to get myself organized for the fall, just like I do every August, but this is a great reminder to take time to ENJOY the end of summer and not get to ahead of myself.

  21. Today’s the first day back to school here and, although we were all mentally ready for it (after three months of 100+ temps and $300+ A/C bills), it still seems odd that school starts before summer really ends. We’ve decided to eke one last fun time out by going camping this weekend.

  22. Oh man, it’s totally still summer where I am. It’s been ridiculously hot, and I regret that I still haven’t taken my kid for a dip in our pool (although he did get to swim at his grandma’s at least).

    We’re also going on a road trip in a few weeks, so that should be fun as well!

  23. I’m definitely going to try the bingo cards for our next car trip. Right now we are playing “yellow car” which is where you try to be the first person to call out “yellow card” when you spot one. It sounds ridiculous but is actually quite addictive.

  24. What time do your kids get in bed in the summer and then the fall?

  25. Annaliza R says:

    Can you tell me more about Greune TX? We live in San Antonio so it’s only half an hour away.

  26. I live in Bend, too- and I am so enjoying the summer! I was telling my Mom the other day how much I had on my “to-do” list, but how I kept putting it off because I felt like if I didn’t get out and enjoy summer, it would be over too soon. I’m going camping this weekend on the McKenzie River- for a little relief from the heat and to sleep outside! No kids for us yet, but I like to play like a kid myself. 🙂

  27. Just curious where you were in Qld? My hubby was born there (in Ingham) and my in-laws still live in Cardwell, Qld.

  28. Kindergarten starts next week and the summer went by way too fast. But I absolutely look forward to autumn. 🙂

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